My Summer Reading List Includes Facts About Direct Mail

The “dog days” of summer are about to end, so I’d better wrap up my summer reading fast. Of course, my summer reading list really is my only opportunity to delve into those volumes of research that have been accumulating, that I’ve been meaning to get to, that I really should be on top of

The “dog days” of summer are about to end, so I’d better wrap up my summer reading fast. Of course, my summer reading list really is my only opportunity to delve into those volumes of research that have been accumulating, that I’ve been meaning to get to, that I really should be on top of … to be the best professional I can be … but I just can’t shoehorn the time because of daily demands.

Thankfully, the Direct Marketing Association’s “Statistical Fact Book 2014” has provided me with invaluable Cliff Notes. The team there has done some surfing and sifting for me and my readers.

For example, did you know?

  • In 2013, direct mail spending in U.S. reached $44 billion, while teleservices topped $41 billion. Digital media spend (search, display, other) came in at $44.2 billion (Winterberry Group, 2013). Talk about a direct marketing triumvirate!
  • While today might not be the “Golden Era of response rates,” some marketers—such as retailers—are seeing dramatically higher response to their direct mail than in the 1980s (USPS Household Diary Study, 2013).
  • Also according to the USPS Household Diary Study, those earning $65K per year or more evaluate their mail “useful,” “will read” or “will respond”—up virtually across the board when compared to 1987.
  • According to DMA’s own research, cost-per-order and cost-per-lead costs for direct mail are in line with print and pay-per-click, not all that more than email, and significantly less than telemarketing. I’ve always maintained that those few pieces of direct mail are marketing gold when compared to the 5,000 ad messages we’re exposed to each and every day.
  • Who’s your best customer, USPS? According to the USPS Revenue, Pieces and Weight by Class of Mail and Special Services, direct mail accounted for 39.9 percent of total mail volume in 1990—and topped a record 56.2 percent in 2013.
  • Catalog mail volume actually increased in 2013 to reach 11.9 billion—the first recorded increase since 2006.
  • Yet there’s less overall competition to worry about in the mailbox: Households received an average 8.9 pieces of Standard Mail per week in 2012—down from 13.8 pieces in 2008. That seems like an opportunity for any brand that wants to have a high-touch engagement.

I’m a multichannel, integrated marketing fan. But sometimes in our digital, mobile age we forget, or overlook, or even dismiss the value of printed communication in the mailbox. I’ve been busy reading my mail these summer months, too.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

2 thoughts on “My Summer Reading List Includes Facts About Direct Mail”

  1. Effectiveness of most channels run in cycles, and direct mail is on an upswing right now as a result of two factors: decreased use of direct mail means less competition in ithe mail box, and declining CTR for email.

  2. Chet, thanks for the post. How well do you think marketers are measuring the effectiveness of their campaign across channels. In other words, are they measuring ROI of physical mail associated with analytics for its associated digital content? Rick

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